Identifying and assessing domestic violence (DV) injuries is of utmost importance in the role of law enforcement as it can save lives and protect vulnerable individuals. By recognizing and documenting visible and non-visible signs of abuse, law enforcement officers can provide immediate support, initiate legal action, and connect survivors with essential resources to break the cycle of violence and promote the safety and well-being of victims.
Amber Burgess Cox leads this session to talk about assessing DV injuries. Amber is an instructor and developer for the North Carolina Justice Academy where she brings her experience from both the teaching field and law enforcement background.
Specifics of Amber’s presentation are about:
- The amount domestic violence cases cost the economy in medical expenses, lost work days, and other related factors.
- The four primary types of abuse in domestic violence – psychological, physical, economic, and sexual – and specific examples of how each one manifests.
- Blunt force injuries: Signs and symptoms of which, how it typically presents, and how it is typically inflicted.
- Sharp force injuries: The different types of sharp force injuries and the characteristics to observe to identify these correctly.
- Why victims and survivors do not report incidents of strangulation.
- What happens to the body and the airflow that leads to loss of consciousness.
- Choking vs. strangulation, and how strangulation may be inflicted.
- The importance of integrating medical first responders in potential incidents of strangulation.
- The common method of strangulation done by perpetrators.
- Signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate strangulation in terms of injuries and external and internal changes in the body which include miscarriages, and losing control of bladder or bowels.
- Emphasizing how strangulation injuries may not be visible and the different factors that may influence this.
- Elements to remember during evidence collection.
- Documenting injuries through photographs to capture pertinent details such as handprints on the neck and swelling on the face.
- Utilizing 911 recordings to provide a context of the incident.
- Photographing the victim as well as their injuries in different time frames to convey the impact and progression of injuries.
- Documenting damaged property to help illustrate the dynamics of the relationship in court.
- Taking notes of weapons used.
- Writing a comprehensive report including spontaneous utterances to aid investigators.
- Responding to pressing matters as injuries may be concealed and victims may be in immediate danger.
- Case examples were provided to demonstrate the different types of injuries survivors face in DV.
Questions and comments from the webinar attendees are about:
- Drowning is a method used by abusers to kill their victims.
- How strangulation can result in brain damage similar to traumatic brain injuries.
- The importance of increased awareness of the dangers of strangulation and encouraging victims to report.
- Utilizing thorough medical examinations and follow-ups to convince a jury of strangulation when injuries aren’t visible.
- The link of aggressive pornography to the increase in strangulation cases.
- Building bridges between victim advocates and law enforcement is crucial to ensure cases are taken seriously.
- Follow-up and coordination across different parts of the criminal justice system to support victims.
Other Webinars with this Presenter
- May 18: Assessment of Domestic Violence Injuries (this webinar)
- Aug 15: First Responding Officer Duties in Sex Crimes Investigations
- Sept 26: Law Enforcement and Department of Juvenile Justice: Partners in Successful Investigations
- “I work in crisis intervention yet I still learned a few new things and a good refresher for other things.” — Heather
- “The presentation was a wealth of information. …At least what signs to look for if strangulation is suspected. The contrast in presentation would be informative. Thank you, Ms. Burgess Cox, for sharing your knowledge.” — Amber
- “I learned that as an advocate a can continue fighting for my DV victim’s rights and that I can make sure law enforcement takes every detail into account to produce a complete and accurate police report.” — Arely
- “The most valuable thing I learned from this webinar is to make sure everything is documented and write a good report. It can assist with a case in court for prosecuting an abuser and in support of the survival.” — Mariam
- “This webinar was very informative on the different types of injuries and different types of abuse.. the PowerPoint was great with the information that was provided.” — Sydney
- “The pictures may be difficult to view but they are extremely helpful. It’s one thing to have injuries documented and explained in words, but having a visualization of what to look for is a critical resource.” — SarahAlexandra
- “I would love to see more webinars from this speaker. Amber is a great speaker and provided valuable insight on the topic.” — Sarah